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Simone Rota’s journey to home

The inspiring story of the boy who was left in an orphanage run by Franciscan sisters in Parañaque


By Rica Arevalo

Simone Rota is happy to play in the Philippines

Simone Rota is happy to play in the Philippines

Last night, the work-in-progress documentary, Journeyman Finds Home, The Simone Rota Story was premiered at the 20th Cine Europa at Shangri-la Cineplex.

Simone Rota is a Filipino footballer who was left in Buklod Kalinga, an orphanage run by Franciscan sisters when he was a toddler. He was adopted by an Italian couple. He now plays for the Azkals, the Philippines national football team and the Davao Aguilas.

“I have worked closely with Simone and his life story is very inspiring,” producer and co-director Albert Almendralejo tells the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

The documentary is three years in-the-making with the production team shooting in Milan Italy, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and Manila. “We started to follow his career with the Azkals and its impact on the growth of football in the country,” says the Bakal Boys producer. “We decided to film in Milan, Italy to interview his parents and friends and to look into the place he grew up,” adds Albert.

Albert Almendralejo

Albert Almendralejo

At that time, the Azkals were losing games and the momentum of its popularity was slowly eroding.  “The film captures that particular time in our football history when we had to rely on Filipinos with mixed parentage from countries with highly developed football history such as Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, and the US,” says Albert, an Asian Institute of Management alumnus, who adds that Simone together with Phil and James Younghusband were part of this influx of foreign talents.  “It was because of them that grassroots football flourished and developed. We were able to capture this in our film.”

Albert has produced Minamahal Kong Bayan for GMA News and Public Affairs and the talkshow, Firing Line with hosts Teodoro Benigno and Oscar Orbos.

Why show this film in Cine Europa?  “Cine Europa provides us a wider audience, corporate sponsors, and a possible market for our films,” says the San Beda graduate. “This early our film is being considered for a film festival in Rome because of its Cine Europa exposure.”

Simone Rota

Simone Rota

Journeyman Finds Home offers hope even in dark times. Simone as an athlete shows that injury will not hinder his dream to play for the Azkals. His determination to find his roots is remarkable even if he is up against all odds. You will see Simone as a man who serves and learns from the little orphans, too.

“Life is worth living and fighting for. We don’t need blood relations to feel and give unconditional love,” says Albert. “Simone and the children of Buklod Kalinga give us hope and inspiration to dream and to fulfill our destiny.”

The other key people in the production team include co-director Maricel Cariaga, line producer Jobany Arlan, creative producer Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr., supervising producer Jing Racelis, and writer Daniel Adapon.

The 51-minute documentary is produced by SPEARS Films with Luna Studios and supported by the EU Delegation to the Philippines, the Philippine Italian Association, Shangri-La Cineplex, Davao Aguilas FC, and Puma.

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